THE DARK SISTER: ON MEERA AND ARYA

HBO’S HOUSE OF THE DRAGON

Six years ago in King’s Landing, Dunk had seen him with his own two eyes, as he rode a pale horse up the Street of Steel with fifty Raven’s Teeth behind him. That was before King Aerys had ascended to the Iron Throne and made him the Hand, but even so he cut a striking figure, garbed in smoke and scarlet with Dark Sister on his hip. His pallid skin and bone-white hair made him look a living corpse. The Sworn Sword

Last night, @buskerlenny​ had an opportunity to ask GRRM a question at Worldcon, and boy, did she deliver for us: George confirmed that Bloodraven took the Valyrian longsword Dark Sister with him to the wall.

There was no ‘keep reading’, no ‘you never know’, but a simple yes. Those three letters opened up a whirlwind of ideas and questions. Is it now in the cave? Who will wield it? Why did he take it North?

Dark Sister possibly showing up in the Winds of Winter means more than the eye thinks – it supports the idea that Valyrian steel is coming even more to the forefront as Winter Comes in TWOW (see: Euron’s Armor).

So yes, it makes logical sense that one of the very few things that can defeat Others – Dragon Steel – happens to be in a cave North of the wall, where one of our heroes is currently wearing tree bondage and pretty much surrounded by snow zombies.

But I’m not here to worry about Brandon Stark. Bran’s Last Hero journey is, for the moment, surrounded by three protectors – and as Bran more than likely loses two of those protectors in TWOW (Hodor, Jojen), we can expect to see Dark Sister wielded by the end of the book.

I might also add that Visenya is the most likely of the two to garb herself as a warrior, and when so garbed, she would wield the Valyrian longsword Dark Sister, whose slender blade is designed for a woman’s hand. GRRM

The many speculations about who’s hands Dark Sister will be equipped in generally circle in on one person, which is Arya Stark. And of course, Arya is a perfect candidate for Dark Sister. Visenya Targaryen, the warrior sister-wife-Queen of Aegon I Targaryen (not to be confused with her poetry, art-loving sister-wife-Queen, Rhaenys), serves as a great indicator for Arya’s ownership of (yes, we get it, it’s a Jon/Sansa/Arya parallel). It’s definitely an upgrade from Needle, Arya’s “childhood” sword, and a real-deal-Valyrian-sword; the perfect transition for Arya into “womanhood”.

This is all fine and dandy, but Dark Sister is currently sitting in a cave that will be overcome with ice creatures at some point, and for Arya to own Dark Sister, it’s going to have to come South. And who else could possibly be the perfect vehicle for that sword than the exhausted, ferociously loyal young girl helping to drag the Last Hero around, watching her brother slowly die North of the wall?

“He wants to go home,” Meera told Bran. “He will not even try and fight his fate. He says the greendreams do not lie.”

“He’s being brave,” said Bran. The only time a man can be brave is when he is afraid, his father had told him once, long ago, on the day they found the direwolf pups in the summer snows. He still remembered.

“He’s being stupid,” Meera said. “I’d hoped that when we found your three-eyed crow … now I wonder why we ever came.”

For me, Bran thought. “His greendreams,” he said. “His greendreams.” Meera’s voice was bitter. “Hodor,“ said Hodor. Meera began to cry.

Bran hated being crippled then. “Don’t cry,” he said. […] The floor was rough and uneven, and it would be slow going, full of scrapes and bumps. I could put on Hodor’ s skin, he thought. Hodor could hold her and pat her on the back. The thought made Bran feel strange, but he was still thinking it when Meera bolted from the fire, back out into the darkness of the tunnels. He heard her steps recede until there was nothing but the voices of the singers. Bran III, ADWD

With Meera’s emotional state – and brother’s life – on the decline, we should see her fulfilling the Dark Sister role for a while indeed. Not only emotionally, but physically, too. Meera Reed is already known for her skill with a slender, long frog spear.

Meera moved in a wary circle, her net dangling loose in her left hand, the slender three-pronged frog spear poised in her right. Summer followed her with his golden eyes, turning, his tail held stiff and tall. Watching, watching …“Yai!” the girl shouted, the spear darting out. Bran IV, ACOK

But with Mikken slain and the ironmen guarding the armory, good steel had been hard to resist, even if it meant grave-robbing. Meera had claimed Lord Rickard’s blade, though she complained that it was too heavy. Bran VII, ACOK

Meera notably finds carrying the heavy sword that had been Lord Rickard Stark’s, made for a grown adult male, difficult, but Dark Sister may be the perfect answer for her to fend off Wights as they travel South. And Meera more than has the ferocity to wield it.

“I dreamed of the man who came today, the one they call Reek. You and your brother lay dead at his feet, and he was skinning off your faces with a long red blade.“Meera rose to her feet. “If I went to the dungeon, I could drive a spear right through his heart. How could he murder Bran if he was dead?” Bran V, ACOK

Bran backed away, bleeding, and Meera Reed was there, driving her frog spear deep into the wight’s back. “Hodor,” Bran roared again, waving her uphill. “Hodor, hodor.” Jojen was twisting feebly where she’d laid him down. Bran went to him, dropped the longsword, gathered the boy into Hodor’s arm, and lurched back to his feet. “HODOR!” he bellowed. Meera led the way back up the hill, jabbing at the wights when they came near. Bran II, ADWD

Transporting the Last Hero home is a hard job – and while some believe Bran, an incredibly important POV in ASOIAF, will be stuck in a cave forever sitting in this said cave having visions, eating blood sacrifices, maybe skinchanging a dragon once and that’s the end of his story, I know this sounds ridiculous to me too, please let’s get real, he’s going to leave the cave if his arc is going to continue , I tend to err that this is one thing that show may have gotten right. The ingredients are there – a cave surrounded by nothing but snow zombies and mythical, fantastical and dying out creatures in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t exactly scream forever a safe haven. That cave exists because it is going to get fucked the hell up, my friends. Especially when you consider Bran’s role as a hero… if his companions die, his dog dies, and their other swords break in the cold.

So, what a perfect moment that will be. Ice zombies trickling up and down the halls, Meera’s frogspear breaks, Hodor sacrifices himself, maybe Summer even falls to Winter… and just when all is about to be lost, out emerges Dark Sister, and Meera’s hands grip the pommel of that skinny, gleaming blade, slashing it down Wights, and protecting Brandon Stark.

Jojen was so solemn that Old Nan called him “little grandfather,” but Meera reminded Bran of his sister Arya. She wasn’t scared to get dirty, and she could run and fight and throw as good as a boy. She was older than Arya, though; almost sixteen, a woman grown. They were both older than Bran, even though his ninth name day had finally come and gone, but they never treated him like a child. Bran IV, ACOK

Bran sees Arya in Meera on more than one occasion, and for good reason. Both are empathetic, and skilled with their choice of weapon. The likened traits he sees in the girls are a product of a little boy’s yearning to be reunited with his family, but also deliberate. Arya and Meera definitely have a lot in common. This makes the passage of Dark Sister from Meera’s hand to Arya’s smooth.

While Meera is strong and skilled, Dark Sister won’t be forever hers. Why? She just won’t want it. In fact, it won’t surprise me if she won’t want this lifestyle in any capacity any longer. She’ll return Bran South of the Wall, and eventually return home (possibly with her brother’s bones), tired, defeated, and ready to mourn. And her family probably won’t hold it against her – protecting Stark children is a hard job, and sometimes it’s near impossible; just ask Howland Reed.

BONUS, SHINY TINFOIL (that will never happen, and I’ve made my peace with this):
While Meera may not hang on to Dark Sister for more than a moon’s turn, wouldn’t it be neat if her basically-canonical-parentage-according-to-me, Ashara Dayne and Howland Reed, granted her more than Dark Sister, and wielding the Valyrian sword only lended her to embrace her proto-Valyrian bloodline, and she emerged the god damn Sword of the Morning, brandishing Dawn through delicately spun White Walker bones? OKAY, COOL, GLAD WE’RE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE, MEERA REED IS NOW THE SWORD OF THE MORNING.

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